Diplomat for the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Studying Spanish and French as part of her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree helped Graci Kim carve out a successful career as a diplomat.

Graci Kim

Key facts

Career: Diplomat
Programme:  Bachelor of Arts (Honours)
Subjects: Spanish, French

“I was born in South Korea but our family immigrated to Auckland when I was 3 years old. I knew that I wanted to finish university in New Zealand before venturing out overseas, so the University of Auckland was a natural choice for me.

“At undergraduate level I studied Spanish and French. I also was able to study abroad in Spain as part of my degree and got even more interested in the language. When I got back to New Zealand I began meeting more Latin Americans to practise my Spanish, and decided to pursue that language for my Honours degree.

“It was a great experience being a postgraduate student in the Faculty of Arts. The lecturers were always so supportive and there was a really warm and friendly sense of camaraderie amongst fellow students. This made it a pleasure to study, even when looming deadlines were upping the stress levels!

“I am now a diplomat for the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and currently posted in Taipei on full-time language training. From early 2014 I will be posted to the NZ Embassy in Beijing, China. When not doing my day job, I’m also the host of a cooking show called Graci In The Kitchen, which airs on several TV-On-Demand Networks.

“On a practical level, having learnt Spanish and French has helped to build relationships and conduct working meetings with our Spanish and French speaking counterparts in the diplomatic world. A lot of international bodies use French and Spanish as their official working languages, so this has been a huge asset to working in this field. On a broader level however, the holistic knowledge gained through my degree has helped me better understand counterpart countries’ negotiating positions or strategies, as well as giving me the ability to foster relationships with stakeholders of different cultural backgrounds.

“I would like to tell other students to be sure to have fun and enjoy every moment of the study they’re pursuing. There are excellent staff at the University to help students build their knowledge and confidence, and you should try to make the most of it. It’s surprising how much of it actually helps later in our careers when we least expect it to!”